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I need some advice with regards to my abusive father and I was hoping you could help me.
Basically, my father has been showing aggressive behaviour since I can remember myself (for all I know, it could have been happening even before I was born). I grew up in a house where my parents would be constantly fighting. I was sometimes even awaken by the yelling in the mornings. They have rarely had happy moments that I can recall. Every few years my dad would get extremely angry (compared to moderately angry everyday behaviour that he had) and take it on my mother by physically abusing her. I could feel the tension building up and I just knew that it was about to happen. I feared him most of the time, not because he would hurt me (he never physically abused me), but because of what he would do to my mom. I have been present at the abuse. When I was a teenager, there was a time he asked me to leave the room, I was absolutely horrified to leave my mom because I knew what would happen. I would cry and hear all the yelling and my mom’s sobbing in the other room. When I was 19, I woke up one morning because I heard him hit her. For the first time I stood up to him and he pushed me out of the room, raised his hand in an attempt to slap me but he couldn’t. He left for work shortly after. I told my mom we should leave straight away. She has been telling me for years that she stayed with my dad because of me which made me feel guilty over time. I told her if she needs my approval, she has it, and I really want to leave as this has been extremely stressful and horrifying experience. She agreed with me, but a few hours later she met with one of her best friends, who advised her not to leave my dad…So she didn’t. I felt very angry at her friends for giving her such advise and also at my mom for not listening to me thus causing herself and myself more pain. My dad continued to verbally abuse me and my mom over the next few days. As usual, he would calm down within the next week and everything would be back to normal. A couple of months later I went to study in another country. That was in September 2009.
In my first 2 years away I suffered from anxiety and depression, I had flashbacks and nightmares related to the abuse. I would visit my parents occasionally and every time my dad would raise his voice at me or my mom I felt extremely uncomfortable. I still felt guilt as my mom was still living with him. Over the last 3 years, as I became completely independent financially and I go home to visit every 1.5 years, he barely argues with me. My mom told me he is not aggressive anymore but occasionally he would get upset and yell for a bit but calm down really quickly. I am not sure I believe her, for all I know he could be physically abusing her again and she is just not telling me. Also, in the last 3 years I was feeling mostly happy, but occasionally I would have flashbacks of the events and get angry and sad and cry for days. I went home 3 weeks ago and I had an argument with him (started from something insignificant) which took me back in time and really upset me. My mom told me I should not be upset with him as he is my father and he has done a lot of things (financial) for me. Back in 2009, when I asked her to leave and she didn’t, I realised that she can’t protect me and this made me see her as a weak person whom I couldn’t rely on. I felt like the protector, instead of feeling protected. Additionally, she makes me feel guilty and ungrateful for the things they have done for me. As if the abuse is really insignificant compared to the money they have provided. Also, she keeps implying problems between parents are normal and exist in every household, but I always found this disturbing. It is not right when your husband does that. My relationship with my mom is very tense due to my dad’s abuse - I feel like I can’t trust her, like she would always be on his side instead of mine, and I feel guilty she stayed with him and I also resent her for not leaving him. I tried explaining to her a few times why I feel so unhappy and what she is doing to cause this, but she would just either deny it or say that I am overreacting. I have never talked to my dad directly about these issues. He is a very tough person, hard to talk to and approach. I rarely speak to him and if I do it is for 5 minutes at most.
In addition, I have a half-sister, a daughter he had from a previous marriage that no one ever told me about. I learnt by accident 12 years ago as she called on the phone and I also found a child support letter. My parents knew about the phone call but got away with it by claiming it was just a crazy person doing a phone prank. I never told them about the letter as I thought they would tell me when the time is right. However, I started thinking about my sister a year ago and I decided to look for her. She is 7 years older than me (I am 24). I found her 3 weeks ago when I went home. She told me our dad and her mom were married for a couple of years and shortly after she was born they divorced. Her mom told her they were fighting a lot and that’s why they divorced. My sister never saw our dad in her life. He paid child support until she was 18 but never tried to make contact. She found his number and contacted him a few times but he kept hanging up on her. That’s when she called home and I answered. She called home once more but my mom told her to stop calling. She gave up but she continued searching for a way to contact me. She couldn’t find such though and hoped one day I would find her. She showed me photos of our dad holding her as a baby and photos from his first wedding. She looks so much like him. She was really happy and excited that I found her and we met, she is a great person, very kind and open. i felt connection to her that I don’t feel to any of my other relatives (I always felt like an alien in my family). Meeting her made me feel happy, but I also felt sad. I felt like I have lost something when I have actually gained a sister. I guess I was sad for all the lost years. I also think I see in her the support I never had in my parents. I am additionally stricken by the fact none of my relatives (grandparents, my dad’s sister, cousins) ever mentioned her! I can’t understand why they would hide her entire existence...
I met her the same day I was leaving home and flying back. My parents have no idea this has happened. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about everything for the last 3 weeks. I have been crying every day, I feel angry and sad. I am not able to concentrate on my work at all. I talk to my sister almost every day. We are trying to make up for the lost time and build a relationship. I haven’t shared with her that our dad is an abusive person. I have only told her we fight a lot. I suspect he might have been physically abusive towards her mom as well and that was the reason they divorced.
I feel I need to finally confront my father. I have never done it directly and I don’t think he is aware of how much he has hurt me and what he has done to my life. I also want to confront him about never telling me about my sister. I felt I have lost all respect for him (if there was any left) having learnt he never contacted her. I am considering flying home and letting him know how I feel. However, I am worried for 2 things: what if this just makes things worse and what if he takes it on my mom again? I am wondering if I should lay it all out and give him a chance to change (which I highly doubt will happen) or to tell him I want to cut off communication. I feel a sense of obligation to give him a chance because of what my mom has told me (that he has done lots of things for me) and because he would occasionally be nice which just confuses matters. Also, I am a bit worried how that would affect my mom. I don’t want her to get upset but at the same time I can’t carry this weight anymore. I feel this heaviness inside and I really need to get it out. I have tried counselling before, I have tried to forget and forgive, but as long as my father is still raising his voice at me and my mom, I can’t do this. Should I confront him if I really feel the need to? Has anyone had similar experience?How do I go about it considering his aggressive nature?
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